Horse Brass Pub
Taps: 74 / Bottles: 26
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 120 | Reviews: 98 | Display Reviews Only:
4.64/5 rDev +7.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$
Jon's driving, I'm pretending to navigate. I don't have a map, and I have no idea where we are. I'm pretty sure everyone's on to me. We're in Oregon, I've never been here before and everybody knows it, but as I'm the only one here with wheels and am always driving, I'm most often paying attention when no one else will, so me riding shotgun is a good fit. And besides, I get to choose the new discs and take in the sights as we head to, where are we going exactly? Horse Brass...
I've never seen anything like this before. It's a beerflyer's nightmare, there's shit everywhere. Towers, pairs, single taps; it's a clusterfuck of someone's organization.
The bar is a wraparound and seats a dozen and a half. Intricately carved wood posts and crossbeams, covered with beer signs and a stained glass "Publick House" panel above, and heavily pasted with coasters, dangling Grolsch top necklaces, Xmas lighting and horse brass medallions which Phil described as being "kind of like bling". Spots to the front and center and strung Guinness mini-pint lighting. There's a large arched mirrored bar back with taps everywhere, booze with serving counters suspended, and glassware above. Ceiling fans, lanterns, glass chandeliers, mounted lamps; the walls decorated with beer & whiskey mirrors, and an entire wall done with Guinness mirrors, the John Gilroy prints and posters, and a great "The gentle art of making Guinness" 12 print set. The "side" side of the bar is open, by that I mean that there isn't a framed wood section overhead. Mirrored back, with shelves of booze, a dozen tables running to the rear, a duel dart area, mirrors, mirrors, mirrors, beer prints, whiskey prints. Lots of dark wood and some leather, and a suspended Trekkie model of the USS Voyager (NCC-74656).
The adjacent tabled areas are madness. Raised elevated seating areas to both sides of the front entranceway with a railing separating them from the bar ahead. 8 long tables in the larger room to one side and 8 various sized and shaped tables on the other side with a forward darts area. To the rear there, more darts, Horse Brass soccer team photos, English flags, soccer pennants and ribbons. A heavy, heavy WWII theme throughout; war photos, English recruiting posters and a whole lotta Churchill goin' on. Tons of well worn wood here, you'd think the place was considerably older than it is.
I counted, I don't know, something like 52 taps and 5 casks. At least half the taps are local and regional micros mostly from Oregon (Deschutes, Roots, Alameda, Golden Valley, Bend, Caldera, Laurelwood, Rogue, Full Sail, Bridgeport, Hair of the Dog, Terminal Gravity), and a bunch from Washington and California (Walking Man, Anchor, Bear Republic, Lagunitas, Stone, North Coast, Anderson Valley, Sierra Nevada). The rest of the taps are imports, standards like Bass, Guinness, Newcastle, Boddingtons, Pilsner Urquell, Stella, Lindemans Framboise and some not so usual (Paulaner Salvator Doppel Bock, Young's Double Chocolate Stout, Bombardier Ale, Greene King Abbot Ale, DuPont Avec Les Bons Voeux). The 5 casks were also local and regional selections from Deschutes, Hales, Rogue, Mt. Hood.
They've got a small bottle list with everyone's favorite Belgians and some Germans and English, that I never needed to know about as the taps were more than enough to keep me busy 'til the Spring. Also, some wines, port, single malt scotch, etc.
I had a pint of the Walking Man Black Cherry Stout which was just sublime. Chewed the fat with the bartender for a bit. "Here, try this. Here, try this". I asked about the lack of beers from Yakima Brewing/Bert Grant's Ales, and he told me the sad tale about the decline of the brewery. Out back on the bulletin board, a cartoon depicting fermenters at Yakima Brewing being packed up and moved. One character says "Those fermenters sure make a lot of noise on the forklifts", and the other character says "That's Bert rolling over in his grave". True, true.
This place is outstanding.
09-08-2006 04:29:02 | More by slander
3.61/5 rDev -16%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.25 | selection: 3.75 | $$
Around the corner from Belmont Station, we all walked down to Horse Brass to drink a couple of beers before dinner at Roe on Division. The Brass looks like a rural British pub, takes me back to those lovely trips through the English countryside with the wife, stopping at small places like this one for a cask ale and some rustic fare.
Only here the beer selection, while geared towards the UK and British styles, includes many great examples of American craft, including a good number of Oregon/Northwest beers.
They have 4 casks, no less, and also Hair of the Dog Blue Dot, Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig, Ft George Vortex, Migration Black IPA, Walking Man Black Cherry, Boneyard Hop, Breakside Salted Stout, Laurelwood Goose... a bit too IPA-focused for my tastes, and not enough big beers. But it ain't bad, that's for sure.
Prices are good, I paid $7.25 for a pint of Pliny that seemed to be 20 ounces. Other beers are between four and six dollars. Service wasn't so great, even though we were at the bar...
Didn't try food but it looked like typical pub food, fries and fish and chips and stuff. I think I would come back here for the atmosphere, so cozy and warm, but would go elsewhere for beer.
02-19-2014 20:42:28 | More by DoubleSimcoe
4.5/5 rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Well, the Horse Brass blew me away!
It's an unassuming store front on a quiet, semi-dark street just down from a retirement home or something. There's not too much on the outside, but step inside and a beautiful gallery of dark wood and tables emerge, as well as the imported bar. And although I've never been to England and can't vouch for their authenticity, I have been to Ireland and the Horse Brass reminded me of some of the older, fine establishments there. I like the way that certain areas are kind of sectioned off and elevated, and that it wraps around the bar with the bathrooms tucked in the back.
And on that note of authenticity, I think it really has a pub atmosphere, fueled at least in part, by their barmen (Dennis rocks!). People seem to feel completely free to talk to each other and interact, which is a quite welcome change from so many places in the U.S. And do they have a T.V.? I don't remember seeing one - that helps too. ("They do have one, but they keep it tucked away most of the time. The Brass often shows European soccer games on Sunday mornings, and I did watch the last World Cup final on TV there, but that's about the only time you'll see a TV at the Horse Brass" - BA, johnmichaelsen).
The beer selection is stunning. There are local beers, semi-rare local beers, beers from outlying regions, East coast beers, and plenty of imports. You can't go wrong! ...
Some draft highlights from my visit:
Cascade Brewing Gose Summer Wheat (OR)
Ninkasi dry-hopped Tricerahops Double IPA (OR)
4th Street Wheat IPA (OR)
Full Sail LTD 3 (OR)
Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin'(CA)
Fish Organic IPA (WA)
So, overall, two thumbs up! Absolutely worth a try!
07-30-2009 02:21:33 | More by NeroFiddled
4.18/5 rDev -2.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Went here on a recommendation from a fellow beer lover who goes to Portland frequently and were not disappointed. Horse Brass is located on the east side of the city on Belmont off route 30/84. Parking can be found on the surrounding streets.
The inside was absolutely packed on a weekday night. There is communal seating and tables from wall to wall, and a wraparound bar that occupies 2 of the rooms. There are darts in the back too. The place is dark with a lot of wood and British-inspired decor.
The beer selection at Horse Brass is very substantial and changes regularly. There are around 50 brews on tap from regional brewers like Caldera, Speakeasy, Elysian, HUB, Laurelwood, Deschutes and others. They also have a few import taps from Germany, Scotland, Belgium and others. Cask beer is also available. The bottle list is fairly extensive as well with many of the same brewers represented. There are beer menus on the tables that show a (mostly) up to date list.
Service was about as good as can be expected considering the place was overflowing with people. Our server was helpful in letting us know what changes had occurred on the beer menu and made good food recommendations.
As for the food, it is very good. We tried a Scotch Egg based on a recommendation and it was awesome. Our bangers and mash and fish and chips were very good as well.
Overall the Horse Brass is high on the list of places to hit in Portland.
03-09-2010 19:12:12 | More by Dogbrick
4.53/5 rDev +5.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3 | $$
7/08 Update. One of the few problems I have had at the Horsebrass involved the service (or should I say lack of service) I typically received from one certain gentleman. As near as I can tell, that individual has now semi-retired, or at least no longer works very often at the Brass. Hence, it's high time I upgraded my service score, as over the past year I have consistently received outstanding, attentive service. Might need to update my atmosphere score as well when Portland goes smokefree in 2009.
Happily, nothing else about this outstanding beer bar has changed one wit, and hence I make it a point to stop by the pub whenever I happen to be in town (frequently, though no where near often enough). Last time I visited, there was a wedding group in attendance, who apparently had made some arrangement with the bar to pour a keg of beer called "wedding cake," solely for the wedding guests (free at the bar for them). I thought that a great idea, something I don't believe I have ever seen elsewhere. As I left the bar a bit later, a couple of young ladies from the group were having a lightsaber duel in the middle of the street.. It was all I could do to keep the grin off my face and not stare.
This place truly is the crown jewel in the nearly endless array of outstanding Portland beer bars. (end of update)
After reading over the reviews about this place, I find myself in agreement with both the pros and cons. I've been coming here for many years myself, even more often now that I live only a few miles away. The criticisms are all warranted I'm afraid. The food here is no better then average for the most part (though the fish and chips always look pretty good), and service uneven to say the least. I've walked out on a couple of occasions after sitting at the bar for what seemed an interminable period of time waiting for service.
All that being said, I'm not sure I agree with Mashmstr2's assertion that the HB's time has come and gone. Most nights I've visited the place it's been absolutely packed. The beer selection remains one of the best in town; where else can you find the awesome Blue Dot Double IPA from Hair of the Dog on tap as a regular? So I come here at least once a week for one reason and one reason only. The HB continues to offer local beers that I seldom, if ever, see any place else. As long as they continue to do that, and Don Younger (may he live forever) seems to be committed to doing just that, I'll continue to stop by whenever I have the chance.
01-20-2006 00:11:44 | More by John_M
4.86/5 rDev +13%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$
I stop in every time I visit Portland on business. I absolutely love this place. The atmosphere is outstanding. Having done many trips to England and visited as many pubs as possible, I find the Horse Brass very authentic and enjoyable. There's a lot of character to the place along with a few dart boards to fill in the time between beer and conversation.
They always have a great selection of beer. It includes both regular offerings and guest taps. I've discovered several favorites here including Walking Man's Homo Erectus Imperial IPA, Mt Hood Hogsback Stout and HUB IPA. I love the fact that they always have some casks on tap.
This is a great neighborhood pub. Nice work Mr Younger!
04-14-2008 00:19:41 | More by GJ40
4.6/5 rDev +7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
We visited this legendary Portland pub for Saturday lunch. We knew of its reputation as smoker-friendly and wanted to try to miss that. We succeeded as only Don, the owner, was smoking at the far end of the very large U-shaped bar.
The atmosphere is (what I imagine to be) of an authentic English pub, right down to the pleasant, if mildly OCD elderly English bartender. Dimly lit, dark wood all around, stools that were made for smaller people than my XL self. Lots of horse brass (brasses?) nailed to the walls along with tons of presumably authentic nicknacks.
The tap list was simply outstanding. Along with a bunch of traditional UK beers (Bass, Guinness, Boddingtons), there was a huge selection of Pac NW locals, along with Bear Republic (Crazy Ivan) and Russian River (Pliny the Elder) taps. Also my hometown Victory Hop Devil. About 7 or 8 of the taps were casks, the most I have ever seen in one location.
Food was very good. My turkey pot pie was delicious and I also tried my first scotch egg. Both were very well prepared.
We could have stayed all day but had other places to visit. Looking forward to next time.
10-23-2008 13:34:32 | More by sholland119
4.36/5 rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
This was another nice pub in Portland, OR. It is certainly *the* place in the city to get that rare one-off draught or bottles brew you have been searching for. The atmosphere is great, real Liverpool local boozer feel to it, with dark wood, and several rooms. Lots of breweriana as well. Quality of my beer of choice (Homo Erectus IIPA) was fresh and great, and the service was nice as well, in this truly smoky and British style ale house. Selection as mentioned is usually great, but was not the best on my visist, since we just missed out on a keg of HOTD's new Blue Dog! D'oh! Still this is a classic SE Portland pub, in a nice neighberhood. The atmosphere makes this place worth it alone. Thanks for the ride David :-)
05-12-2005 20:45:22 | More by francisweizen
4.5/5 rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Cool building. I now see why everyone said that Belmont lost something when it moved away from here. Anyways, to Horse Brass After I walk through the door Im greeted by an ornery old cuss of a limey and a cluster farfignugen of taps. There are taps behind the bar, above the bar, below the bar, around the bar taps coming out of the walls, taps growing off of fungus growing on the carefully carved timbers you get the point. There are a lot of taps, at least 50, and casks theyve got more then any bar Ive been to in the states.
After staring at the taps, and drooling, and staring some more, and then getting verbally prodded by the limey, I order a Fred. Did I mention that they have loads of Hair of the Dog on tap? Oh yeah!
Selection otherwise includes a number of Oregon/Washington/Cali beers: Deschutes, Almeda, Laurelwood, Mt. Hood, Walking Man, Lagunitas, Rogue (including their own label), Anderson Valley, North Coast, etc All the usual British imports are available: Boddingtons, Bass, etc plus some less common brews like Youngs Chocolate Stout. A handful of great imports: Salvator, Dupont, and some less then great imports: Stella, Pilsner Urequel, etc can be found as well. The casks are just as good and diverse: I had a Hogs Back on cask from Mt. Hood for my second brew. At least four other British/West Cost ales were available as well.
After ordering, my girlfriend and I set to playing darts on a couple of rather traditional British boards. That area of the bar reminded me a bit of the Albatross in Berkeley, since the Albatross is also a great British Pub style beer bar with authentic dart boards. I really got to enjoying the dimly lit but spacious, and utterly authentic atmosphere. Some witty banter with the barkeep about women, beer, and politics only added to my enjoyment.
The Horse Brass is an exceptional tavern. I was thrilled by the tap selection, got ripped on by an old British bloke (and proceeded to laugh my arse off about it), and greatly enjoyed the atmosphere. I couldnt ask for anything more.
Note: Some reviewers complained about the smokiness of the place. It didnt seem smoky at all to me, at least during the day. Then again, I think that whole discussion will soon be a wash as Portland or Oregon State (Im not sure which) is soon to ban all public smoking.
07-03-2007 15:23:08 | More by DaPeculierDane
Horse Brass Pub in Portland, OR
95 out of 100 based on 120 ratings.